Nucleus of a new counter hegemonic narrative?: ‘The Commons’ enters in the Resolution of Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment in Rio, organised by ITUC and TUCA


Meeting at the Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 11-13 June 2012, organized by Sustainlabour, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), and
in the presence of 396 delegates, representing 66 organisations from 56 countries;

Hoping that the governments gathered at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will agree on concrete actions that will translate as binding agreements and that will ensure the eradication of poverty, respect for social and trade  union rights, and the protection of the environment;

Realising that our current profit-driven production and consumption model, identified as the source of rising social inequalities and environmental degradation, must be replaced if a truly sustainable development is to be achieved;

Aware of the current and future impact of environmental degradation on the health, incomes, jobs and well-being of workers and communities, especially the poorest among them, as well as on our ability to achieve prosperity, equity and decent work for women and men;

Deeply concerned with the impacts of the food and climate crises, the contamination of seas and oceans and land, the accelerating depletion of biodiversity, and urged on by the need to guarantee the universal right to access basic resources, goods and services, such as drinking water, energy and security, and food sovereignty and nutrition within the limits of the earth’s resources;

Recognizing the risks associated with and the actual repercussions of anthropogenic climate change for life on the planet, the urgent need to act accordingly, and prepared to call for actions that avoid an average temperature rise of over 1.5°C, based on the recommendations contained in the Fifth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);

Deeply preoccupied with the data demonstrating that almost 60% of the world’s workers are without secure employment and that 75% of the world’s population is without social protection, as well as with the statistics on worker health and safety which indicate that, despite under-reporting, every 15 seconds a worker dies because of a work-related illness or accident, that every 15 seconds 160 workers fall victim to a work-place accident, worsened by the neoliberal model that has brought about changes in workplace relations (informal labour, outsourcing, subcontracting, export-processing zones (EPZ), among others), leading to ever-greater precariousness;

Preoccupied by the fact that twenty years after the Rio Summit of 1992, the environmental and social crises have worsened and sustainable development negotiations have not led to the compromises that could produce changes in production and consumption models, but are, rather, laying the regulatory foundations for the commodification and financialisation of the Commons, of nature and its functions; Aware of the fact that the trade union movement is faced with a diversity of situations across the globe with respect to the right to associate, to organise as trade unions and to  collective bargaining, to social dialogue and to decent work, and that in many countries the irresponsible behaviour of certain national and multinational businesses and irresponsible structural adjustment policies lead to the violation of worker and trade union rights. Furthermore, as a result of austerity policies, these rights, which used to be guaranteed, are currently under threat. Convinced, moreover, that combating social dumping is synonymous with protecting the planet;
Convinced that the trade union movement plays a decisive role in fighting for an alternative development model for our societies, grounded on peoples’ needs, on solidarity, on economic democracy and on a fair distribution of wealth, whereby all citizens can see their human rights fulfilled, whilst ensuring the preservation of our planet for future generations;

Considering the progress made by unions at all levels, especially since 2006, during the 1st Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment, exemplified by the collection of best practices showcased during this meeting, and aware of our responsibility to elevate further the degree of trade union participation on these issues beyond current levels.

We agree that

There is an intrinsic link between social progress, environmental protection and decent work, and that this relationship makes impossible the full realization of one dimension without the other.

The historical mission of the trade union movement, which is to ensure workers’ dignity, freedom and social equality, requires that we embrace the cause of a socially-just transition towards a sustainable development model; a transition that must begin without further delay.

Public authorities have the responsibility to enact at all relevant levels the principles to which they are internationally committed, and set in motion a rights-based transition that secures equity between and within countries, between generations and across genders.

It must ensure that the Commons, natural and energy resources are brought and kept  under public ownership, securing their public preservation and administration with social control.

Without democracy and without good governance, meaning transparency, justice, accountability, conflict resolution, the fight against corruption and citizen participation, and without strong regulation, the markets will continue to behave in the socially and environmentally predatory manner that characterises the current economic model. Social protection is a human right and an essential component of social justice. The right to social security is an economic and social necessity on the road to development and progress.

The health and the security of workers, their families and their communities, and environmental protection are two sides of the same coin. The trade union movement believes that worker health is a component of the right to social security and a state responsibility. Safe and secure workplaces are therefore essential if we are to move towards decent work and equity and justice which are cornerstones of sustainable development.

In order for the trade union movement to be a driver of the necessary societal transformation, everything must be done to strengthen trade unions at all levels and to incorporate sustainability issues into trade union strategies.

We ask governments to Respect and apply the agreed-upon compromises obtained through intergovernmental processes in the field of sustainable development and the environment, such as the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Conventions on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification, as well as the instruments related to the management of chemical products, such as the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions.

Initiate a profound transformation of all economic sectors, in order to secure the sustainability of the planet, its inhabitants and future generations. This means investing in clean and renewable energies, developing public transport and sustainable mobility, the efficient renovation of building stocks, promoting ecological agriculture, fisheries and forestry models, re-using and recycling waste and promoting life-cycle approaches for goods.

Elaborate strategies for a Just Transition through public policies that support the transformation of economic activities and that develop new sources of green and decent jobs, with the aim of reaching a result that will be environmentally sustainable, that creates cohesion and social justice, and that guarantees equal opportunities for women and youth.

Promote the investment of at least 2% of the GDP in sectors that reduce the environmental impact of production and the impacts of natural disasters and that generate green and decent jobs and in Rio, adopt a strategy that pursues the objective of decent jobs for all, with specific references to the eradication of precarious work, the reduction of unemployment and increases in the share of green and decent jobs and gender equality.

Acknowledge that social protection is a human right, in line with ILO Convention 102 on Social Security (Minimum Standards) and ILO Recommendation 202 on national social protection floors, and provide, facilitate and extend social protection coverage. Benefits should be non-discriminatory, adequate and secure, and the financial sustainability of 139 social protection schemes must be assured, and benefit from trade union involvement in their design and management. In Rio, governments must commit to the objective of Social Protection for all by 2030, at …

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2 thoughts on “Nucleus of a new counter hegemonic narrative?: ‘The Commons’ enters in the Resolution of Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment in Rio, organised by ITUC and TUCA

  1. Pingback: Nucleus of a new counter hegemonic narrative?: ‘The Commons’ has entered in the Resolution of Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment in Rio, orgaised by ITUC and TUCA | ANOTHER WORLD IS NOW! - GLOBAL SPRING |

  2. Pingback: Nucleus of a new counter hegemonic narrative?: ‘The Commons’ enters in the Resolution of Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment in Rio, orgaised by ITUC and TUCA | P2P search for a New Political Economy |

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